Burning in during split-grade printing....which contrast to burn in under
Since reading about split-grade printing it has helped me a lot. If it's an average shot and exposed as normal, it generally will print to grade 2 just dandy. But not all of them are, so using split-grade printing to figure out the contrast is very useful. I usually start with 00 just long enough to put tone in the lightest parts of the image, and then use 5 to bring the blacks down where I want them (not that I'm racist). Sometimes an image needs dodging or burning and I'm not sure which phase I should do it in.
A typical situation is burning in a sky with delicate cloud texture. I have been burning in with grade 5 but I think I might be doing it wrong, and haven't been happy with the results.
Another situation I've run into is pictures of people that are harshly lit, so that one side of their face is dark and the other side light. I need to dodge the dark side of their face and then possibly burn in the lighted side, but I'm not sure which I should do during the high- and low-contrast exposures.
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Les McLean wrote an article for the May CiM magazine on split grade printing. Check it out. I know he poses on possible solution but it escapes me at the present.
Here's a little story.
I used to split grade print quite a bit with what I thought were difficult prints. The 00-5 split grade. But then I kept reading how really it was the same thing as grade 2. So I made the best split grade print I could for one image, and then the best grade 2 print for the same image. In a blind print test, I discovered I liked the grade 2 print better -- the highlights and shadows were the same in both prints, but I liked the midtones better in the grade 2 print.
So... after reading articles by a lot of people I discovered that using split grade printing for dodging and burning was what I was really looking for. I might do an entire print at grade 2, but burn in the delicate highlights with a 0 or 1/2 or 1. Like you, I had a very high contrast scene of a woman feeding pigeons and I ended up printing the bulk of that image at 1/2, and then bumping up the contrast in other areas with a 2 or 3. I guess I've learned to think of my pictures like puzzles -- these corners get 10 seconds at grade 3, that section gets a one minute burn at 00, those trees at grade 1, etc... Now, don't get me wrong -- I don't do this for all my prints, but for certain ones I found that experimenting this way really helped me to improve the final product.
That being said, I'm far from being a master printer, and this is what works for me. There's another thread below about this very issue, and countless others in the APUG archive, so I'm sure in the end you'll have to discover what's best for you.
Last edited by mooseontheloose; 05-03-2009 at 12:10 PM. Click to view previous post history.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
I don't see that article in the May pdf...
BetterSense, when burning in a sky using split grade you need to think about the overall feel you want for your sky. Let's say you figured out your two base exposures and you just made your first workprint. Now you like the sky you have, you would just like it darker. What you would do then is keep the ratio of g00 to g5 when burning. So if your base exp. is 10sec g00 then 10sec g5, you would burn equally after each exposure with each filter for the same amount of time. If your base exp. is 10sec g00 then 5sec g5, you would burn twice as long after the g00 as you will for the g5. Another example; Now lets say you like the highlights in the clouds of your sky, but the blue part of the sky needs to be darker to create more separation then you would burn exclusively with the g5 filter. You have to be careful when you do this though because it will start to become grainy and look harsh quickly when burning with such a strong filter. More than not you're going to need to also burn a little with the g00. If you're worried about losing tonality in the highlights of the clouds, you may need to dodge them a little bit during the base exposure (g00), then when you burn the sky in as a whole that tone is brought back into the clouds, but also the rest of the sky as well.
As far as the portraits with the harsh lighting, try dodging during the g00 exposure on the dark side of the face. This will bring the midtones and highlights up on that side of the face. As for the brighter side of the face I would just burn slightly with each filter.
Hope this helps.
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